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Genetic drift (allelic drift or the Sewall Wright effect) is the change in the frequency of an existing
gene In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mecha ...

gene
variant (
allele An allele (, ; ; modern formation from Greek ἄλλος ''állos'', "other") is one of two, or more, forms of a given gene In biology, a gene (from ''genos'' "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian_inheritance ...
) in a population due to random sampling of organisms. The alleles in the offspring are a sample of those in the parents, and
chance
chance
has a role in determining whether a given individual survives and reproduces. A population's
allele frequency Allele frequency, or gene frequency, is the relative frequency of an allele An allele (, ; ; modern formation from Greek ἄλλος ''állos'', "other") is one of two, or more, forms of a given gene In biology, a gene (from ''genos'' "... ...
is the fraction of the copies of one gene that share a particular form. Genetic drift may cause gene variants to disappear completely and thereby reduce
genetic variation thumb File:Genetic Variation and Inheritance.svg, Parents have similar gene coding in this specific situation where they reproduce and variation in the offspring is seen. Offspring containing the variation also reproduce and passes down traits t ...

genetic variation
. It can also cause initially rare alleles to become much more frequent and even fixed. When few copies of an allele exist, the effect of genetic drift is larger, and when many copies exist, the effect is smaller. In the middle of the 20th century, vigorous debates occurred over the relative importance of
natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype right , Here the relation between genotype and phenotype is illustrated, using a Punnett square, for the character of peta ...
versus neutral processes, including genetic drift.
Ronald Fisher Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (17 February 1890 – 29 July 1962) was a British polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo universalis, "universal human") is an individual whose knowledge spans a subs ...
, who explained natural selection using
Mendelian genetics Mendelian inheritance is a type of biological inheritance Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property, titles A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either ...

Mendelian genetics
, held the view that genetic drift plays at the most a minor role in
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
, and this remained the dominant view for several decades. In 1968, population geneticist
Motoo Kimura (November 13, 1924 – November 13, 1994) was a Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white r ...
rekindled the debate with his
neutral theory of molecular evolution The neutral theory of molecular evolution holds that most evolutionary changes occur at the molecular level, and most of the variation within and between species are due to random genetic drift Genetic drift (allelic drift or the Sewall Wright ...
, which claims that most instances where a genetic change spreads across a population (although not necessarily changes in
phenotype In genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular inter ...

phenotype
s) are caused by genetic drift acting on neutral
mutation In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechan ...
s.


Analogy with marbles in a jar

The process of genetic drift can be illustrated using 20 marbles in a jar to represent 20 organisms in a population. Consider this jar of marbles as the starting population. Half of the marbles in the jar are red and half are blue, with each colour corresponding to a different allele of one gene in the population. In each new generation, the organisms reproduce at random. To represent this reproduction, randomly select a marble from the original jar and deposit a new marble with the same colour into a new jar. This is the "offspring" of the original marble, meaning that the original marble remains in its jar. Repeat this process until 20 new marbles are in the second jar. The second jar will now contain 20 "offspring", or marbles of various colours. Unless the second jar contains exactly 10 red marbles and 10 blue marbles, a random shift has occurred in the allele frequencies. If this process is repeated a number of times, the numbers of red and blue marbles picked each generation fluctuates. Sometimes, a jar has more red marbles than its "parent" jar and sometimes more blue. This fluctuation is analogous to genetic drift – a change in the population's allele frequency resulting from a random variation in the distribution of alleles from one generation to the next. In any one generation, no marbles of a particular colour could be chosen, meaning they have no offspring. In this example, if no red marbles are selected, the jar representing the new generation contains only blue offspring. If this happens, the red allele has been lost permanently in the population, while the remaining blue allele has become fixed: ; all future generations are entirely blue. In small populations, fixation can occur in just a few generations.


Probability and allele frequency

The mechanisms of genetic drift can be illustrated with a simplified example. Consider a very large colony of
bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typ ...

bacteria
isolated in a drop of solution. The bacteria are genetically identical except for a single gene with two alleles labeled A and B, which are neutral alleles, meaning that they do not affect the bacteria's ability to survive and reproduce; all bacteria in this colony are equally likely to survive and reproduce. Suppose that half the bacteria have allele A and the other half have allele B. Thus, A and B each has an allele frequency of 1/2. The drop of solution then shrinks until it has only enough food to sustain four bacteria. All other bacteria die without reproducing. Among the four that survive, 16 possible
combination In mathematics, a combination is a selection of items from a collection, such that the order of selection does not matter (unlike permutations). For example, given three fruits, say an apple, an orange and a pear, there are three combinations of t ...

combination
s for the A and B alleles exist: (A-A-A-A), (B-A-A-A), (A-B-A-A), (B-B-A-A),
(A-A-B-A), (B-A-B-A), (A-B-B-A), (B-B-B-A),
(A-A-A-B), (B-A-A-B), (A-B-A-B), (B-B-A-B),
(A-A-B-B), (B-A-B-B), (A-B-B-B), (B-B-B-B). Since all bacteria in the original solution are equally likely to survive when the solution shrinks, the four survivors are a random sample from the original colony. The
probability Probability is the branch of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained ...

probability
that each of the four survivors has a given allele is 1/2, and so the probability that any particular allele combination occurs when the solution shrinks is : \frac \cdot \frac \cdot \frac \cdot \frac = \frac. (The original population size is so large that the sampling effectively happens with replacement). In other words, each of the 16 possible allele combinations is equally likely to occur, with probability 1/16. Counting the combinations with the same number of A and B gives the following table: As shown in the table, the total number of combinations that have the same number of A alleles as of B alleles is six, and the probability of this combination is 6/16. The total number of other combinations is ten, so the probability of unequal number of A and B alleles is 10/16. Thus, although the original colony began with an equal number of A and B alleles, quite possibly, the number of alleles in the remaining population of four members will not be equal. The situation of equal numbers is actually less likely than unequal numbers. In the latter case, genetic drift has occurred because the population's allele frequencies have changed due to random sampling. In this example, the population contracted to just four random survivors, a phenomenon known as a
population bottleneck A population bottleneck or genetic bottleneck is a sharp reduction in the size of a population due to environmental events such as famines, earthquakes, floods, fires, disease, and droughts; or human activities such as specicide, widespread violen ...

population bottleneck
. The probabilities for the number of copies of allele A (or B) that survive (given in the last column of the above table) can be calculated directly from the
binomial distribution In probability theory and statistics, the Binomial coefficient, binomial distribution with parameters ''n'' and ''p'' is the discrete probability distribution of the number of successes in a sequence of ''n'' statistical independence, indep ...

binomial distribution
, where the "success" probability (probability of a given allele being present) is 1/2 (i.e., the probability that there are ''k'' copies of A (or B) alleles in the combination) is given by: : \left(\frac\right)^k \left(1-\frac\right)^= \left(\frac\right)^n\! where ''n=4'' is the number of surviving bacteria.


Mathematical models

Mathematical models of genetic drift can be designed using either
branching process In probability theory Probability theory is the branch of mathematics concerned with probability. Although there are several different probability interpretations, probability theory treats the concept in a rigorous mathematical manner by expressi ...
es or a
diffusion equation The diffusion equation is a parabolic partial differential equation. In physics, it describes the macroscopic behavior of many micro-particles in Brownian motion, resulting from the random movements and collisions of the particles (see Fick's law ...
describing changes in allele frequency in an
idealised populationIn population genetics an idealised population is one that can be described using a number of simplifying assumptions. Models of idealised populations are either used to make a general point, or they are fit to data on real populations for which the ...
.


Wright–Fisher model

Consider a gene with two alleles, A or B. In
diploid Ploidy () is the number of complete sets of chromosomes in a cell (biology), cell, and hence the number of possible alleles for Autosome, autosomal and Pseudoautosomal region, pseudoautosomal genes. Sets of chromosomes refer to the number of mate ...
y, populations consisting of ''N'' individuals have 2''N'' copies of each gene. An individual can have two copies of the same allele or two different alleles. The frequency of one allele is assigned ''p'' and the other ''q''. The Wright–Fisher model (named after
Sewall Wright Sewall Green Wright FRS(For) H FRSE (December 21, 1889March 3, 1988) was an American geneticist known for his influential work on evolutionary theory Evolutionary thought, the recognition that species change over time and the perceived unde ...

Sewall Wright
and
Ronald Fisher Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (17 February 1890 – 29 July 1962) was a British polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo universalis, "universal human") is an individual whose knowledge spans a subs ...
) assumes that generations do not overlap (for example,
annual plant An annual plant is a plant that completes its life cycle Life cycle, life-cycle, or lifecycle may refer to: Science and academia *Biological life cycle, the sequence of life stages that an organism undergoes from birth to reproduction ending w ...
s have exactly one generation per year) and that each copy of the gene found in the new generation is drawn independently at random from all copies of the gene in the old generation. The formula to calculate the probability of obtaining ''k'' copies of an allele that had frequency ''p'' in the last generation is then :\frac p^k q^ where the symbol "!" signifies the
factorial In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no g ...
function. This expression can also be formulated using the
binomial coefficient In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no g ...
, : p^k q^


Moran model

The Moran model assumes overlapping generations. At each time step, one individual is chosen to reproduce and one individual is chosen to die. So in each timestep, the number of copies of a given allele can go up by one, go down by one, or can stay the same. This means that the transition matrix is tridiagonal, which means that mathematical solutions are easier for the Moran model than for the Wright–Fisher model. On the other hand,
computer simulation Computer simulation is the process of mathematical modelling, performed on a computer, which is designed to predict the behaviour of, or the outcome of, a real-world or physical system. The reliability of some mathematical models can be determ ...
s are usually easier to perform using the Wright–Fisher model, because fewer time steps need to be calculated. In the Moran model, it takes ''N'' timesteps to get through one generation, where ''N'' is the
effective population size The effective population size is the number of individuals that an idealised population would need to have in order for some specified quantity of interest to be the same in the idealised population as in the real population. Idealised populations ...
. In the Wright–Fisher model, it takes just one. In practice, the Moran and Wright–Fisher models give qualitatively similar results, but genetic drift runs twice as fast in the Moran model.


Other models of drift

If the variance in the number of offspring is much greater than that given by the binomial distribution assumed by the Wright–Fisher model, then given the same overall speed of genetic drift (the variance effective population size), genetic drift is a less powerful force compared to selection. Even for the same variance, if higher moments of the offspring number distribution exceed those of the binomial distribution then again the force of genetic drift is substantially weakened.


Random effects other than sampling error

Random changes in allele frequencies can also be caused by effects other than
sampling errorIn statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In applying statistics to a scientific, industrial, or social problem, it is conventional to begin with a ...
, for example random changes in selection pressure. One important alternative source of
stochastic Stochastic () refers to the property of being well described by a random In common parlance, randomness is the apparent or actual lack of pattern or predictability in events. A random sequence of events, symbols or steps often has no :wi ...

stochastic
ity, perhaps more important than genetic drift, is genetic draft. Genetic draft is the effect on a
locus Locus (plural loci) is Latin for "place". It may refer to: Entertainment * Locus (comics), a Marvel Comics mutant villainess, a member of the Mutant Liberation Front * Locus (magazine), ''Locus'' (magazine), science fiction and fantasy magazine ...
by selection on linked loci. The mathematical properties of genetic draft are different from those of genetic drift. The direction of the random change in allele frequency is autocorrelated across generations.


Drift and fixation

The
Hardy–Weinberg principle In population genetics, the Hardy–Weinberg principle, also known as the Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium, model, theorem, or law, states that allele An allele (, ; ; modern formation from Greek ἄλλος ''állos'', "other") is one of two, o ...
states that within sufficiently large populations, the allele frequencies remain constant from one generation to the next unless the equilibrium is disturbed by
migration Migration, migratory, or migrate may refer to: Human migration * Human migration, physical movement by humans from one region to another ** International migration, when peoples cross state boundaries and stay in the host state for some minimum len ...

migration
, genetic
mutation In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechan ...
s, or
selection Selection may refer to: In science: * Selection (biology) Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype right , Here the relation between genotype and phenotype is ill ...
. However, in finite populations, no new alleles are gained from the random sampling of alleles passed to the next generation, but the sampling can cause an existing allele to disappear. Because
random sampling In statistics, quality assurance, and Statistical survey, survey methodology, sampling is the selection of a subset (a statistical sample) of individuals from within a population (statistics), statistical population to estimate characteristics o ...
can remove, but not replace, an allele, and because random declines or increases in allele frequency influence expected allele distributions for the next generation, genetic drift drives a population towards genetic uniformity over time. When an allele reaches a frequency of 1 (100%) it is said to be "fixed" in the population and when an allele reaches a frequency of 0 (0%) it is lost. Smaller populations achieve fixation faster, whereas in the limit of an infinite population, fixation is not achieved. Once an allele becomes fixed, genetic drift comes to a halt, and the allele frequency cannot change unless a new allele is introduced in the population via mutation or
gene flow In , gene flow (also known as gene migration or geneflow and flow) is the transfer of material from one to another. If the rate of gene flow is high enough, then two populations will have equivalent allele frequencies and therefore can be cons ...

gene flow
. Thus even while genetic drift is a random, directionless process, it acts to eliminate
genetic variation thumb File:Genetic Variation and Inheritance.svg, Parents have similar gene coding in this specific situation where they reproduce and variation in the offspring is seen. Offspring containing the variation also reproduce and passes down traits t ...

genetic variation
over time.


Rate of allele frequency change due to drift

Assuming genetic drift is the only evolutionary force acting on an allele, after ''t'' generations in many replicated populations, starting with allele frequencies of ''p'' and ''q'', the variance in allele frequency across those populations is : V_t \approx pq\left(1-\exp\left(-\frac \right)\right)


Time to fixation or loss

Assuming genetic drift is the only evolutionary force acting on an allele, at any given time the probability that an allele will eventually become fixed in the population is simply its frequency in the population at that time. For example, if the frequency ''p'' for allele A is 75% and the frequency ''q'' for allele B is 25%, then given unlimited time the probability A will ultimately become fixed in the population is 75% and the probability that B will become fixed is 25%. The expected number of generations for fixation to occur is
proportional Proportionality, proportion or proportional may refer to: Mathematics * Proportionality (mathematics), the property of two variables being in a multiplicative relation to a constant * Ratio, of one quantity to another, especially of a part compared ...
to the population size, such that fixation is predicted to occur much more rapidly in smaller populations. Normally the effective population size, which is smaller than the total population, is used to determine these probabilities. The effective population (''N''''e'') takes into account factors such as the level of
inbreeding Inbreeding is the production of offspring In biology, offspring are the young born of living organism, organisms, produced either by a single organism or, in the case of sexual reproduction, two organisms. Collective offspring may be known as ...
, the stage of the lifecycle in which the population is the smallest, and the fact that some neutral genes are genetically linked to others that are under selection. The effective population size may not be the same for every gene in the same population. One forward-looking formula used for approximating the expected time before a neutral allele becomes fixed through genetic drift, according to the Wright–Fisher model, is : \bar_\text = \frac where ''T'' is the number of generations, ''N''''e'' is the effective population size, and ''p'' is the initial frequency for the given allele. The result is the number of generations expected to pass before fixation occurs for a given allele in a population with given size (''N''''e'') and allele frequency (''p''). The expected time for the neutral allele to be lost through genetic drift can be calculated as : \bar_\text = \frac \ln p. When a mutation appears only once in a population large enough for the initial frequency to be negligible, the formulas can be simplified to : \bar_\text = 4N_e for average number of generations expected before fixation of a neutral mutation, and : \bar_\text = 2 \left ( \frac \right ) \ln (2N) for the average number of generations expected before the loss of a neutral mutation.


Time to loss with both drift and mutation

The formulae above apply to an allele that is already present in a population, and which is subject to neither mutation nor natural selection. If an allele is lost by mutation much more often than it is gained by mutation, then mutation, as well as drift, may influence the time to loss. If the allele prone to mutational loss begins as fixed in the population, and is lost by mutation at rate m per replication, then the expected time in generations until its loss in a haploid population is given by : \bar_\text \approx \begin \dfrac 1 m, \text mN_e \ll 1\\\dfrac m \text mN_e \gg 1 \end where \gamma is Euler's constant. The first approximation represents the waiting time until the first mutant destined for loss, with loss then occurring relatively rapidly by genetic drift, taking time ''N''''e'' ≪ 1/''m''. The second approximation represents the time needed for deterministic loss by mutation accumulation. In both cases, the time to fixation is dominated by mutation via the term 1/''m'', and is less affected by the
effective population size The effective population size is the number of individuals that an idealised population would need to have in order for some specified quantity of interest to be the same in the idealised population as in the real population. Idealised populations ...
.


Versus natural selection

In natural populations, genetic drift and natural selection do not act in isolation; both phenomena are always at play, together with mutation and migration. Neutral evolution is the product of both mutation and drift, not of drift alone. Similarly, even when selection overwhelms genetic drift, it can only act on variation that mutation provides. While natural selection has a direction, guiding evolution towards heritable
adaptation In , adaptation has three related meanings. Firstly, it is the dynamic evolutionary process that fits s to their environment, enhancing their . Secondly, it is a state reached by the population during that process. Thirdly, it is a or adapti ...

adaptation
s to the current environment, genetic drift has no direction and is guided only by the . As a result, drift acts upon the genotypic frequencies within a population without regard to their phenotypic effects. In contrast, selection favors the spread of alleles whose phenotypic effects increase survival and/or reproduction of their carriers, lowers the frequencies of alleles that cause unfavorable traits, and ignores those that are neutral. The predicts that when the absolute number of copies of the allele is small (e.g., in small populations), the magnitude of drift on allele frequencies per generation is larger. The magnitude of drift is large enough to overwhelm selection at any allele frequency when the
selection coefficient In population genetics, a selection coefficient, usually denoted by the letter ''s'', is a measure of differences in relative Fitness (biology), fitness. Selection coefficients are central to the quantitative description of evolution, since fitness ...
is less than 1 divided by the effective population size. Non-adaptive evolution resulting from the product of mutation and genetic drift is therefore considered to be a consequential mechanism of evolutionary change primarily within small, isolated populations. The mathematics of genetic drift depend on the effective population size, but it is not clear how this is related to the actual number of individuals in a population.
Genetic linkage Genetic linkage is the tendency of DNA sequences that are close together on a chromosome to be inherited together during the meiosis phase of sexual reproduction. Two genetic markers that are physically near to each other are unlikely to be separa ...
to other genes that are under selection can reduce the effective population size experienced by a neutral allele. With a higher rate, linkage decreases and with it this local effect on effective population size. This effect is visible in molecular data as a correlation between local recombination rate and
genetic diversity Genetic diversity is the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species, it ranges widely from the number of species to differences within species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classificati ...
, and negative correlation between gene density and diversity at
noncoding DNA Non-coding DNA sequences are components of an organism's DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of ...
regions. Stochasticity associated with linkage to other genes that are under selection is not the same as sampling error, and is sometimes known as genetic draft in order to distinguish it from genetic drift. When the allele frequency is very small, drift can also overpower selection even in large populations. For example, while disadvantageous mutations are usually eliminated quickly in large populations, new advantageous mutations are almost as vulnerable to loss through genetic drift as are neutral mutations. Not until the allele frequency for the advantageous mutation reaches a certain threshold will genetic drift have no effect.


Population bottleneck

A population bottleneck is when a population contracts to a significantly smaller size over a short period of time due to some random environmental event. In a true population bottleneck, the odds for survival of any member of the population are purely random, and are not improved by any particular inherent genetic advantage. The bottleneck can result in radical changes in allele frequencies, completely independent of selection. The impact of a population bottleneck can be sustained, even when the bottleneck is caused by a one-time event such as a natural catastrophe. An interesting example of a bottleneck causing unusual genetic distribution is the relatively high proportion of individuals with total
rod cell Rod cells are photoreceptor cell A photoreceptor cell is a specialized type of neuroepithelial cellNeuroepithelial cells, or neuroectodermal cells, form the wall of the closed neural tube in early embryonic development ''Embryonic'' is th ...
color blindness Color blindness (color vision deficiency) is the decreased ability to see color or differences in color Color (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. Eng ...

color blindness
(
achromatopsia Achromatopsia, also known as total color blindness, is a medical syndrome that exhibits symptoms relating to at least five conditions. The term may refer to acquired conditions such as cerebral achromatopsia, but it typically refers to an autosom ...
) on in
Micronesia Micronesia (, ; from grc, μικρός ''mikrós'' "small" and ''nêsos'' "island") is a subregion of Oceania, consisting of thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a close shared cultural history with three other isl ...
. After a bottleneck, inbreeding increases. This increases the damage done by recessive deleterious mutations, in a process known as
inbreeding depression Inbreeding depression is the reduced biological fitness Fitness (often denoted w or ω in population genetics models) is the quantitative representation of natural and sexual selection File:Sexual Selection with Peafowl.gif, 250px, Sexual se ...
. The worst of these mutations are selected against, leading to the loss of other alleles that are genetically linked to them, in a process of
background selection{{Short description, A phenomenon inducing a loss of genetic diversity Background selection describes the loss of genetic diversity Genetic diversity is the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species, it ranges widel ...
. For recessive harmful mutations, this selection can be enhanced as a consequence of the bottleneck, due to
genetic purging Genetic purging is the reduction of the frequency of a deleterious allele, caused by an increased efficiency of natural selection prompted by inbreeding. Purging occurs because many deleterious alleles only express all their harmful effect when hom ...
. This leads to a further loss of genetic diversity. In addition, a sustained reduction in population size increases the likelihood of further allele fluctuations from drift in generations to come. A population's genetic variation can be greatly reduced by a bottleneck, and even beneficial adaptations may be permanently eliminated. The loss of variation leaves the surviving population vulnerable to any new selection pressures such as disease,
climatic change ''Climatic Change'' is a biweekly Peer review, peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Springer Science+Business Media covering cross-disciplinary work on all aspects of climate change and variability. It was established in 1978 and the editor ...
or shift in the available food source, because adapting in response to environmental changes requires sufficient genetic variation in the population for natural selection to take place. There have been many known cases of population bottleneck in the recent past. Prior to the arrival of
Europeans Europeans are the focus of European ethnology, the field of anthropology related to the various indigenous groups that reside in the List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Europe, nations of Europe. Groups may be defined by commo ...

Europeans
,
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
n prairies were habitat for millions of
greater prairie chicken The greater prairie chicken or pinnated grouse (''Tympanuchus cupido''), sometimes called a boomer,Friederici, Peter (July 20, 1989)"The Last Prairie Chickens" ''Chicago Reader''. Retrieved August 27, 2014. is a large bird in the grouse Family (bi ...
s. In
Illinois Illinois ( ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspape ...

Illinois
alone, their numbers plummeted from about 100 million birds in 1900 to about 50 birds in the 1990s. The declines in population resulted from hunting and habitat destruction, but a consequence has been a loss of most of the species' genetic diversity.
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically neutral gro ...

DNA
analysis comparing birds from the mid century to birds in the 1990s documents a steep decline in the genetic variation in just the latter few decades. Currently the greater prairie chicken is experiencing low
reproductive success Reproductive success is an individual's production of offspring per breeding event or lifetime. This is not limited by the number of offspring produced by one individual, but also the reproductive success of these offspring themselves. Reproductive ...
. However, the genetic loss caused by bottleneck and genetic drift can increase fitness, as in ''
Ehrlichia ''Ehrlichia'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to ...
''. Over-hunting also caused a severe population bottleneck in the
northern elephant seal The northern elephant seal (''Mirounga angustirostris'') is one of two species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical proces ...
in the 19th century. Their resulting decline in genetic variation can be deduced by comparing it to that of the
southern elephant seal The southern elephant seal (''Mirounga leonina'') is one of two species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Mo ...

southern elephant seal
, which were not so aggressively hunted.


Founder effect

The founder effect is a special case of a population bottleneck, occurring when a small group in a population splinters off from the original population and forms a new one. The random sample of alleles in the just formed new colony is expected to grossly misrepresent the original population in at least some respects. It is even possible that the number of alleles for some genes in the original population is larger than the number of gene copies in the founders, making complete representation impossible. When a newly formed colony is small, its founders can strongly affect the population's genetic make-up far into the future. A well-documented example is found in the
Amish The Amish (; pdc, Amisch; german: Amische) are a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships with Swiss German Swiss German (Standard German Standard High German (SHG), less precisely Standard German or High German (not to ...

Amish
migration to
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
in 1744. Two members of the new colony shared the recessive allele for Ellis–Van Creveld syndrome. Members of the colony and their descendants tend to be religious isolates and remain relatively insular. As a result of many generations of inbreeding, Ellis–Van Creveld syndrome is now much more prevalent among the Amish than in the general population. The difference in gene frequencies between the original population and colony may also trigger the two groups to diverge significantly over the course of many generations. As the difference, or
genetic distance Genetic distance is a measure of the genetic divergence between species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species i ...
, increases, the two separated populations may become distinct, both genetically and , although not only genetic drift but also natural selection, gene flow, and mutation contribute to this divergence. This potential for relatively rapid changes in the colony's gene frequency led most scientists to consider the founder effect (and by extension, genetic drift) a significant driving force in the evolution of . Sewall Wright was the first to attach this significance to random drift and small, newly isolated populations with his
shifting balance theory Image:fitness-landscape-cartoon.png, Sketch of a fitness landscape. The arrows indicate the preferred flow of a population on the landscape. The red ball indicates a population that moves from an adaptive valley to the top of an adaptive peak. Unde ...
of speciation. Following after Wright,
Ernst Mayr Ernst Walter Mayr (; 5 July 1904 – 3 February 2005) was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists File:Francesco Redi.jpg, Francesco Redi, the founder of biology, is recognized to be one of the greatest biologists of all ti ...
created many persuasive models to show that the decline in genetic variation and small population size following the founder effect were critically important for new species to develop. However, there is much less support for this view today since the hypothesis has been tested repeatedly through experimental research and the results have been equivocal at best.


History

The role of random chance in evolution was first outlined by Arend L. Hagedoorn and A. C. Hagedoorn-Vorstheuvel La Brand in 1921. They highlighted that random survival plays a key role in the loss of variation from populations. Fisher (1922) responded to this with the first, albeit marginally incorrect, mathematical treatment of the 'Hagedoorn effect'. Notably, he expected that many natural populations were too large (an N ~10,000) for the effects of drift to be substantial and thought drift would have an insignificant effect on the evolutionary process. The corrected mathematical treatment and term "genetic drift" was later coined by a founder of
population genetics Population genetics is a subfield of that deals with genetic differences within and between s, and is a part of . Studies in this branch of examine such phenomena as , , and . Population genetics was a vital ingredient in the of the . Its pri ...
,
Sewall Wright Sewall Green Wright FRS(For) H FRSE (December 21, 1889March 3, 1988) was an American geneticist known for his influential work on evolutionary theory Evolutionary thought, the recognition that species change over time and the perceived unde ...

Sewall Wright
. His first use of the term "drift" was in 1929, though at the time he was using it in the sense of a directed process of change, or natural selection. Random drift by means of sampling error came to be known as the "Sewall–Wright effect," though he was never entirely comfortable to see his name given to it. Wright referred to all changes in allele frequency as either "steady drift" (e.g., selection) or "random drift" (e.g., sampling error). Symposium: "Population Genetics: The Nature and Causes of Genetic Variability in Populations". "Drift" came to be adopted as a technical term in the
stochastic Stochastic () refers to the property of being well described by a random In common parlance, randomness is the apparent or actual lack of pattern or predictability in events. A random sequence of events, symbols or steps often has no :wi ...
sense exclusively. Today it is usually defined still more narrowly, in terms of sampling error, although this narrow definition is not universal. Wright wrote that the "restriction of "random drift" or even "drift" to only one component, the effects of accidents of sampling, tends to lead to confusion." Sewall Wright considered the process of random genetic drift by means of sampling error equivalent to that by means of inbreeding, but later work has shown them to be distinct. In the early days of the modern evolutionary synthesis, scientists were beginning to blend the new science of population genetics with
Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin (; ; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that fu ...

Charles Darwin
's theory of natural selection. Within this framework, Wright focused on the effects of inbreeding on small relatively isolated populations. He introduced the concept of an adaptive landscape in which phenomena such as cross breeding and genetic drift in small populations could push them away from adaptive peaks, which in turn allow natural selection to push them towards new adaptive peaks. Wright thought smaller populations were more suited for natural selection because "inbreeding was sufficiently intense to create new interaction systems through random drift but not intense enough to cause random nonadaptive fixation of genes." Wright's views on the role of genetic drift in the evolutionary scheme were controversial almost from the very beginning. One of the most vociferous and influential critics was colleague Ronald Fisher. Fisher conceded genetic drift played some role in evolution, but an insignificant one. Fisher has been accused of misunderstanding Wright's views because in his criticisms Fisher seemed to argue Wright had rejected selection almost entirely. To Fisher, viewing the process of evolution as a long, steady, adaptive progression was the only way to explain the ever-increasing complexity from simpler forms. But the debates have continued between the "gradualists" and those who lean more toward the Wright model of evolution where selection and drift together play an important role. In 1968,
Motoo Kimura (November 13, 1924 – November 13, 1994) was a Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white r ...
rekindled the debate with his neutral theory of molecular evolution, which claims that most of the genetic changes are caused by genetic drift acting on neutral mutations. The role of genetic drift by means of sampling error in evolution has been criticized by John H. Gillespie and William B. Provine, who argue that selection on linked sites is a more important stochastic force.


See also

*
Peripatric speciation Peripatric speciation is a mode of speciation Speciation is the evolution Evolution is change in the Heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are t ...
*
Antigenic drift Antigenic drift is a kind of genetic variation in viruses, arising by the accumulation of mutations in the virus genes that code for virus-surface proteins that host antibodies An antibody (Ab), also known as an immunoglobulin (Ig), is a large ...
*
Coalescent theory Coalescent theory is a model of how gene variants sampled from a population may have originated from a common ancestor. In the simplest case, coalescent theory assumes no recombination, no natural selection, and no gene flow or population structu ...
*
Gene pool The gene pool is the set of all genes, or genetic information, in any population, usually of a particular species. Description A large gene pool indicates extensive genetic diversity, which is associated with robust populations that can surviv ...
* Meiotic drive


Notes and references


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * "Papers from a workshop sponsored by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research." * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links

* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Genetic Drift Population genetics Evolutionary biology Genetic genealogy